Failure: it's a (not so wonderful) fact of life.
And if you're an entrepreneur, you're intimately familiar with it.
I should know. As CEO and Founder of Mom Corps, I've experienced as many "uh oh" as "ah ha" moments in business. Looking back at my career to this point, a few of the (ahem) more significant ones stand out:
Restructuring. When Mom Corps was still self-funded and in its infancy, I had a staff of six employees. Sales hadn't picked up yet, and there was just too much red on the balance sheet. After a major mental struggle, I made the tough call to restructure the company - firing several, reducing salaries for remaining employees and not paying myself at all.
Revenue shortfalls could've led to the company's failure. But instead of hanging it up, we stuck it out. And while it was obviously tough for us to accept pay cuts, it also made us hungrier for success - and appreciate the wins that much more when they finally came.
New service failure. I launched "Mom Corps YOU," a resource and training website for career-minded professionals, in 2015. While our candidates loved the concept and material, we quickly learned that they:
• didn't want to visit a separate site to access resources;
• didn't want to pay for content.
Not the feedback you want when you launch a new service.
We could've tucked our tails and completely scrapped the project, but instead we listened to our candidates. Today, we're in the process of bringing all of that wonderful content to our main site for free. And the results are awesome:
• We are getting more traffic to our site.
• We are getting more attendees to our webinars.
• By decoupling the content from our other premium services (which include things like individualized career coaching), we are actually getting more interest in our premium membership.
• Even though we are offering services for free, we are attracting better candidates - and making more money!
Franchising. I franchised Mom Corps in 2009. Perhaps naively, I thought it was a sure-fire way to grow our operations and instantly access expansion capital. The truth? We wound up "kissing a lot of frogs" to find the few amazing franchise owners we still have today.
While franchising does have its advantages, we ultimately decided that it was not the right growth tool for Mom Corps. Our franchising "fail" helped us realize that we'd rather expand by hiring folks who would all pursue the same corporate goals and follow the same benchmarks.
Some may call it complicated, but I know it's the right direction for us. We now have a healthy mix of franchise-owned and corporate-owned business, and we are building our brand in a better way.
Why am I so eager to share my entrepreneurial failures?
It's simple: I know that my failures don't define me. The way that I bounce back from them does! No matter how many missteps, bad decisions and business blunders I make, I always get back in the ring and learn something valuable.
Here's what I took away from my experiences above:
• It's okay to fail - often. Frequent, small failures are a sign that I'm constantly trying new things, taking calculated risks and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. That's the stuff that success is made of.
• Nobody takes a linear path to success. If we did, we'd all be billionaires. As the saying goes, "success is failure turned inside out." Those of us who refuse to quit - even when we're uncertain, disheartened and fighting multiple uphill battles - are the ones who will eventually succeed.
• And perhaps most importantly, as an entrepreneur, I'm constantly in the middle of both failure and success. They're not mutually exclusive. Victory is a matter of recognizing failure, adjusting course to move through it, and coming out on the other side a little bit stronger and a whole lot wiser.
As an entrepreneur, how do you view failure? Respond to it? Bounce back from it? I'd love to hear your story!